Graduate's Guide

Event Details

  • 6:00 p.m.  Graduates arrive for line up. Please report to first floor
                     Cook Academic Hall
    to check in and receive your name card.
                      Doors open for guests to the Fieldhouse
  • 6:45 p.m.   All guests should be seated (Lyon St. and Fieldhouse will close
                      for processional at 6:45 p.m. Both will reopen
                      once graduates are inside.)
  • 7:00 p.m.   Ceremony begins

There is no rehearsal prior to commencement. Staff will be available to assist graduates to ensure a memorable commencement experience.

Before the Event

  • Take your cap, gown, and stole out of the package in advance. Hang it in the bathroom while you are showering to remove any wrinkles. Do NOT iron!
  • If you are a member of Phi Theta Kappa, purchase your key medallion from the Student Life Office for $25.00 plus tax.
  • Military service members (past and present) can pick up a red, white, and blue cord recognizing your service to our country from the Veteran Services Office, Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall, formerly Main Building, Room 118. Please bring proof of service with you.

Preparing for Arrival and Robing

Bring the following items with you:

  • Cap, gown, tassel and stole (come dressed)!
  • The honors and veteran cords, Delta Pi Alpha, PTK, culinary medallions and nursing pins are approved to be worn with the graduation gown.
  • The tip of your mortar board (cap) should point to the front. Your tassel will start on the right side of your cap and will be moved to the left side during the ceremony when the President instructs you to stand and move it.
  • Please leave all personal belongings and valuables with family and friends. Only graduates will have access to the line-up area. If you choose to carry a phone, please verify it is in silent mode. Neither you nor family members should bring cow bells, air horns, balloons, etc.

Guests and Parking

  • Tickets are required for all guests over the age of two-years-old. Each graduate will receive five (5) tickets.
  • The Fieldhouse will open at 6:00 p.m. for guest seating.  There will be a section for guests requiring special accommodations.
  • Lyon St. and the Fieldhouse will close at 6:45 p.m. for the procession to take place. Both will reopen once graduates are inside and seated.
  • Parking is FREE in GRCC's Bostwick or Lyon Street Ramps.
  • Guests who need mobility assistance can be dropped off in front of the Ford Fieldhouse on Lyon St.  Floor seats are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. So we can accommodate as many guests as possible in this section, only one companion will be permitted to accompany the guest in the accessible seating section.

Lineup Information

  • Arrive at 6 p.m. Graduates need to report to first floor Cook Academic Hall to check in and receive your name card.
  • Follow the directions from greeters to pick up your name card. (You will keep this with you to hand to the stage staff.)
  • Do not get in line without your name card. Line up will be according to your school, which is distinguished by the color of your name card.
  • If you want to sit by specific people (you must be graduating in the same school/same color card), and you will want to make sure that person is in front or in back of you in line.
  • Once you are in line, please stay there. If you have questions, ask staff working in that area. We will remain in line until about 10-15 minutes before the ceremony begins, when we will start moving to enter the fieldhouse.
  • Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, as you will be standing for an extended period of time.

During the Ceremony

  • You will be directed to sit in a specific row by a marshal (staff member in black gown). Please move all the way to the end of the row and fill every seat. This is critical, as the marshals are counting/tracking how many students can fit in each row.
  • When you are at your seat, stay standing while faculty and stage members enter. The President will signal and ask you to be seated.

When it is time to cross the stage:

  • Marshals will signal your row to stand. The entire row will rise together.
  • Bring your name card up with you! You will hand your card to the stage staff and start walking immediately toward the President to shake his hand and receive your diploma cover.
  • When you shake hands with the President, pause to smile for the camera, then exit the stage for additional photo.
  • After your photo, return to your seat.
  • When it is time, you will be directed by the President to stand and move your tassel from right to left.
  • This is a formal academic ceremony and there is an expectation of respect and professionalism. We do not throw caps at the end of the ceremony. All graduates are required to stay until the conclusion of the ceremony out of respect to your fellow grads.

After the Ceremony

  • Staff will lead you out of the building through a faculty congratulations line.
  • Tell family members and guests to meet you on the Juan R. Olivarez Student Plaza.
  • Consider recycling your gown! There will be boxes to drop gowns in on your way out if you are willing to donate for future graduates.

Additional Information

  • Flowers will be available for purchase at the fieldhouse that evening.
  • DVDs of the ceremony are available for $10.00. The order form is available online.
  • Photographs - Two photographs will be taken of each graduate. One with the college president as graduate receives diploma cover and one photo just off the exit ramp. You will receive an email after the ceremony to purchase photos. There is no obligation to purchase. Questions? Please contact Call Photography (800) 997-4980. Cameras and video cameras are permitted, but we do ask all guests to remain in their seats and do not stand in or block the aisles.

Please note:

  • Participation in the ceremony does not guarantee graduation. Your record will be reviewed after all grades are submitted and your diploma will be mailed upon degree verification.
  • If you require special accommodations during the line-up process or ceremony, please contact Student Affairs at (616) 234-3925 or
  • If your plans change and you will no longer be participating in the ceremony, please call the Student Life Office at (616) 234-4160.
  • For additional questions and assistance, call (616) 234-3925 or (616) 234-4160.

You've worked hard for this! We can't wait to celebrate with you!